Some proposed changes are relatively riskless, so it is relatively costless for employees to go along with a change initiative. However, many changes proposed by change agents carry relatively high costs for employees, and therefore it is rational for employees to be more cautious. In sum, when risk is evaluated to be “reasonable.” the employee is inclined to trust the change agent and “buy in.” 1
But the perceived riskiness of a current change proposal is not the only element that influences the risks associated with trusting the change agent. Another issue is the weight of history. Organizational trust evolves over time. Some have observed that it is slow to build and quick to be destroyed, as evidenced by the quick demise of Enron. 2
Another issue that is looming larger and larger for organizations is the rise of flextime, outsourcing, and virtual organizations. It has been observed that these efficiency-creating administrative realities of the 21st century make organizational trust more fragile since face-to-face interactions are a much more robust way to build and maintain trust. 3 In other words, temporal and spatial distance between employees and their leaders makes trust that much more important, but also more fragile and risky.